A comprehensive response to sexual violence involves the entire community in a proactive and inclusive manner.
While most men would never commit an act of sexual violence, most sexual violence is committed by men.1 For this reason men have a unique and important role to play in ending sexual violence. Men are well positioned to influence the aspects of male culture that bring about gendered power imbalances, objectify women, and minimize, normalize, and condone sexual violence.
In addition to the everyday ways that we can all work towards ending sexual violence, here are a few things that men are uniquely positioned to do:
- Make a promise to yourself to be a man who defines his own masculinity by respecting women and valuing gender equality. Use your strength to build others up, not tear them down.
- Be a role model to other guys who look up to you. When you’re with them, always behave in ways that reflect your own values. You can mentor the boys and teens in your life about how to become men of strong morals and character in healthy, positive ways that don’t involve degrading or abusing girls and women.
- If you’re a dad, you can be a role model for your children by treating everyone with respect and dignity. You can talk about what caring, respectful relationships with others look like, and what consent means when it comes to sex. As a dad, you can support your child’s involvement in programs that help them develop healthy gender identity.
- You’re surrounded by movies, television, music, magazines and video games that sometimes communicate harmful or stereotypical messages about relationships and what it takes to be a “real man.” These messages can degrade women and blur the line between sex and violence. Be critical of these images and messages.
- Watch your language. Guys often use words that put women down: calling a woman a “bitch,” “slut,” “ho” or “baby” is common. That kind of language tells both men and women that women are inferior. When this kind of language is normalized, eventually it becomes easier for men to treat women with less respect.
- You’ll probably never see a sexual assault in progress, but you’ll definitely see and hear men display attitudes and behaviours that are disrespectful to women and support the culture of sexual abuse. When your buddy, brother, classmate or teammate tells a joke that degrades women, don’t be passive or remain silent. Say that you don’t find it funny.
- Most men don’t think of sexual violence as an issue they need to talk about, so get them talking about it. If you are looking for a tool-kit to help get these conversations started check out the Leading Change Expansion Pack.
- When you’re at a party or pub, be aware of how your male friends are interacting with the women around them. It’s a myth that alcohol use and intoxication, either by the perpetrator or the victim, causes sexual assault, but it’s true that drinking is used as an excuse for it. So, watch for indicators of sexually predatory behaviour in your buddies, and intervene if it’s necessary.
- Reach out for support if you are at risk of harming someone.
Check out the below resources or connect with your local sexual assault centre to learn more about how men can get involved in ending sexual violence.
- Jackson Katz: TED Talk, Tough Guise & Tough Guise 2: Documentaries
- Dr. Michael Flood: Engaging Men and Boys in Violence Prevention – Presentation and Book
- Healthy Masculinity Tip Sheet for Parents
- XY Online – XY is a website focused on men, masculinities, and gender politics. XY is a space for the exploration of issues of gender and sexuality, the daily issues of men’s and women’s lives, and practical discussion of personal and social change.
1 Rotenburg, C. (2017). Police-reported sexual assaults in Canada, 2009-2014: A statistical profile [Data set]. Retrieved from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/85-002-x/2017001/article/54866-eng.htm